This is a sea robin. At least, that's what Captain Rick called it last Friday. A friend who stopped by as I was getting reading to cook it said that, when she fished off Shelter Island as a kid, her dad referred to such things as "garbage fish."
Rick sells lots of perfectly normal fish (filets of tuna, flounder, etc.) at his stand at the 97th Street Greenmarket. But that kind of stuff costs real money, and is kinda boring, so I'm usually drawn to his little bin of whole fish. I've bought lots of excellent porgies from him, and the week before I had gone for the butterfish. This time the weirdest thing in the bin was the sea robin, so I bought it. For $5.
I asked Rick what to do with the thing. He said to cut off the tail and bake it. So I cut off the tail:
I then followed a recipe for monkfish tail in the no-longer-All-New Joy of Cooking (1997 edition), stuffing the thing with chopped garlic and basil and Maldon salt:
I roasted it at 450 degrees, initially just with oil and then with some Vinho Verde thrown in.
It was a bust, which is why I took no pictures of the finished product. It didn't look good. It didn't taste good. The kid, who will eat porgies all day, didn't like it. The wife didn't like it. I didn't like it. The mix of flavors was just wrong. Maybe I overcooked it. Or undercooked it. But I don't think that was the problem. Luckily, I had also made a nice salad and cooked up some couscous and Fresh Direct lamb sausage. But still, it was a bust.
I think the fish might taste fine in a thick, creamy sauce. A sea robin etouffee. Except that it's got lots of little bones which would make such treatment difficult. So this week it's back to porgies or butterfish. Or maybe even tuna.